Passion for a healthy life
Bridgetown GP Dr Sarah Youngson is celebrating her eighth year in town and is proud of the work that Blackwood Youth Action — a group that she helped found — has done over that time.
Her idea to establish the group came when she compared the difference between her previous home city of Mandurah and Bridgetown, her new home.
“I’d been working in a youth drop-in centre in Mandurah for quite a few years and I’d really loved that work and I could see the need for dedicated youth services in communities and when I came here I felt like that was a little bit of a gap,” Sarah said.
“So I called a meeting with a group of people that I knew were interested in youth and mental health and we had this lovely little get together and from there the group sort of grew.
“We’ve still got some of those original members in Blackwood Youth Action.”
One of the Sarah’s key philosophies about the delivery of youth services is collaboration between the different support services available, a strategy that she refers to as a wrap-around approach.
“For me seeing the impact of that type of wrap-around support for a young person and that teamwork where you support a young person, not just one person but everyone together in the community doing it, I just felt so excited that in Bridgetown that was already happening we just needed to, I guess, create a structure around it and that would allow us opportunities to grow that.”
Some of Sarah’s proudest achievements are little anecdotes of the improvements that Blackwood Youth Action has helped their young charges with.
“We used to have a group that was called the quiet group, because the kids in there were quite shy and now it’s the noisiest group ever and they are really engaged and socialising,” she said.
“Those are all the little anecdotes that make you, and all of us at Blackwood Youth Action feel really excited and like we are making a difference, to see those little changes in people.”
While not involved in all things mental health, Sarah is the self-appointed manager to her two musician children, Charlie and Olivia, who played at last weekend’s Blackwood Rhapsody concert.
Sarah also says she practises what she preaches when it comes to exercise, and will be participating in the Rotary Tour of the Blackwood, taking on the 65km half course.
She is on the organising committee for the event and the funds raised from the tour go directly to Blackwood Youth Action.
Ensuring that there is a next generation of rural doctors is also high on the priority list for Sarah and she has taken a job with UWA’s rural clinical school, a program which sees young doctors placed in rural areas for training.
“I’m the lead medical co-ordinator of that group, and we’ve got these four gorgeous enthusiastic young training doctors down here for the year,” she said.
“That’s another hat that I wear in the community, running that program and working alongside the other doctors that are training our medical students and hopefully getting them to come back and sit in this chair when I retire.”
Sarah said she was grateful for the opportunity to be a rural doctor.
“The work is amazingly interesting and rewarding and as I said, a really huge privilege so I feel really lucky, I love my job.”
She is not shy of her love of Bridgetown either.
“Oh my gosh, I love Bridgetown, we are not going anywhere,” she said. “We think it’s the most beautiful place, both aesthetically and from its soul, it’s got a beautiful soul.”
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